Arctic Diplomacy requires Convergence of Military and Scientific Interests

Charting Diplomacy on Ice (Photograph courtesy TKTK Media)
Charting Diplomacy on Ice (Photograph courtesy TKTK Media)

Scientists and the military have a long history of engagement but largely in a client-donor relationship. Yet, global environmental change is providing another opportunity for more “natural” convergent cooperation that was manifest at an unusual meeting of academia and the military held at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (RSENR) at the University of Vermont on July 6-7, 2015. The meeting was motivated by the publication earlier this year of an anthology which I coedited with Dr. Rebecca Pincus titled Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic. The goal of the gathering was to consider how accessibility to the Arctic through climate change and technological advancement can provide mechanisms for cooperation between countries that have often had trust deficits with each other. Research cooperation between security interests and the scientific community could possibly provide a bridge for inducing cooperative behaviour in the Arctic between nation states as well.

The conference delegates, representing perspectives from Scandinavia, Russia, China, Canada and the US, were convened through a grant from the US Army Research Office to the University of Queensland. Vermont was an opportune location to hold this workshop as a northern state with close proximity and shared watersheds with Canada, and the University of Vermont being home to the Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security (IEDS). In opening the conference, the director of IEDS, Dr. Asim Zia spoke of the importance of science as an agent of diplomacy. The Dean of the RSENR, Dr. Nancy Matthews, particularly spoke about the importance of holding such forums at universities that should provide a safe space for such cooperative conversations. The workshop was held under Chatham House rule —> Read More

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